Writing Exercises: The Bar

This exercise involved examining an object in front of you and using it as a jumping-off point.

The grain on the wood of the bar twisted under my fingers, swirled into knots here and there, and I wished I could feel them instead of smooth gloss. I could practically see my life, past and future, spread out in those patterns-that-weren’t-really-patterns, ugly and coarse under the thin coat of socially-mandated polish.

The bartender was counting out my drinks with olives — this one was overloaded with four olives on two cocktail sticks. “I’m switching to onions next,” he said, setting it neatly on a napkin.

I hate onions. “I hate onions,” I said.”

He said, “Good.”

“Except when they’re pickled in gin and vermouth,” I finished.

He laughed and went off to serve the guy at the end of the bar, the one wearing the hopelessly out-of-date tie. I shouldn’t laugh at the guy’s tie; my garnet dress wasn’t much better, although more classic. The lines on the bar mocked me, twenty-six years old, fresh out of an MFA, and already washed up. Pretensions aside, I’d come here to drown my uncertainty, my artistic sensibilities that were so wasted in this hole of a town. I decided I needed a change of venue — the wood grain was making my eyes cross, or maybe that was the last martini. I’d been eyeing the table in a nook near the window; its torn vinyl matched my ambitions.

Abandoning my drink but not my mood, I crossed to the booth. Everybody, all eight other people in the bar, watched me, but I didn’t care. Nothing mattered anymore. The bench seat was high, up on a platform, and I found out just how slick rayon on vinyl could be as I went sliding under the table before I even managed to sit down, cracking my nose against the edge. It seemed a fitting end to the evening, so I went home.

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~ by Cheryl on February 25, 2016.

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